Artist Photographs The End Of The World

Curators’ Corner

Artist Photographs The End Of The World

The end of the world has been a popular theme and inspiration for artists throughout recorded history. From renaissance painters recreating apocalyptic Bible scenes to big budget Hollywood films orchestrating the destruction of major cities, human nature’s fascination with worldwide cataclysm will never go out of style.

Photographer Christopher Russell added to the millennia-old array of devastation art in his most recent project, “Dissonance, Coincidence and Errant Gradations of Light.” While most contemporary artists are content using computer renderings to illustrate decimation, The Portland, Oregon-based photographer took an abstract and very unique approach to Armageddon.

Using a cheap lens, Russell pointed his camera directly at the sun in all of his shots. Then, after developing the black and white prints, he manually “altered” them, trashing all conventional photographic practices in the process. Russell scratched the prints with a razor blade, folded them into paper airplanes, stomped on them, left them in a compost bin, urinated on them and ran them over with his car. Once he was satisfied with the level of damage inflicted upon the image, he sealed it in a Plexiglas frame covered with cracks, markings and text.

The photographs are both powerful and chilling, resembling some sort of nuclear holocaust, distant explosion or asteroid impact. In one incredible photo, aptly titled ‘Aftermath #24,’ Russell scratched dozens of birds into the print, all fleeing the burst of light emanating from the center of the image.

“I wanted to take away the preciousness of photography, the idea you can’t touch a photo,” Russell told Oregon Live. “I wanted a gesture for gruffness.”

“Dissonance, Coincidence and Errant Gradations of Light” opened at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland on September 4 and will run until September 27.

Russell’s other work is included in collections at the Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Hammer Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Images courtesy of Christopher Russell